REVIEW: HORSE-PLAY (Riverside Studios)

Horse-Play is a hilarious new comedy by Ian Hallard. Exploring the kinkier side of life, Horse-Play has its world premiere at Riverside Studios where audiences can have the “ride of their lives…” this summer.

Horse-Play focuses on Tom and Tim. After ten years of married life, they decide to spice up their sex life by booking an evening in a dungeon with a gorgeous male escort. Meanwhile, crime-busting superhero, the Stallion, and his intrepid side-kick, Butterfly, have been lured to the secret lair of their arch-nemesis: the dastardly Villainor. But what connects these two seemingly random events? One thing’s for sure – a bump on the head and a faulty door lock result in a night none of them will ever forget – for all the wrong reasons!

Directed by Andrew Becket are David Ames (Holby City, Steve) as Butterfly/Tim, Matt Lapinskas (EastEnders, Hollyoaks) as Villainor/Karl, Jake Maskall (EastEnders, The Royals) as Stallion/Tom, Nick Sampson (The Book of Dust, Anthony And Cleopatra) as Mr Overton/Murray and Stephanie Siadatan (The School for Good and Evil, High School Musical) as Danielle/Ingrida.

David Ames has fun playing the loveable and slightly erratic Butterfly/Tim. His energetic and engaging performance has the audience laughing from the moment he steps onto the stage as our hero-in-distress. As his other half Stallion/Tom, Jake Maskall is stoic, logical and slightly awkward. The two have a fun chemistry together, playing off each other well and as we learn more about their relationship, it’s easy to imagine they’ve been married for ten years. As the villain of the piece, Matt Lapinskas has a playful presence as male escort Villainor/Karl. A metaphor for how kink is sometimes misunderstood, Lapinskas humanizes Villainor throughout his performance as we discover more about his life as sweet Karl. Nick Sampson gives a short-lived but memorable performance as the owner of the dungeon, Mr Overton/Murray. As Karl’s girlfriend and partner in crime/slime, Stephanie Siadatan’s performance as Danielle/Ingrida was a lot of fun. Energetic, layered and easily bouncing off her co-stars while holding a quiet warm strength, Siadatan was a breath of fresh air.

Overall, Horse-Play is a fun romp with some farcical plot lines and some cringy “oh god” comedy moments. At times, some character development seemed a tad stereotypical and the dialogue somewhat laborious which tended to make the evening drag a tad longer than it should have been perhaps. During the second act, blackouts were used to depict time passing and to cover scene changes which I found broke the continuum and felt overused.

Ian Hallard wrote Horse-Play to break the tedium during lockdown and he’s achieved a fun, sex-positive comedy out of it. While I’m not sure it was the ride of our lives as the poster promises, it sure does give you a fun sexy night out, with a lot of laughs.

★★★

Reviewed by Stuart James